Black Bean Sauce Recipe (JP + EN translation)

Hi all!

It has been a while! I wanted to share with you something I made for my Japanese module coursework, a recipe for black bean sauce from my mum. The images are all in Japanese but I will write the translation below 🙂 I have separated it into parts corresponding with each page.

Just a disclaimer, I’m not an expert recipe writer, and my mum is notorious for avoiding specifying ingredient amounts, so you may wish to tweak this if for example you want your sauce gloopier (more cornstarch) or less gloopy (less cornstarch), etc. I am open to questions if you have any, and if I can’t answer I can ask my mum!

Ingredients

  1. Meat (suggestion: 3-4 chicken thighs or 450g of beef)
    Vegetarian options: 1 block of firm tofu or quorn etc.
  2. 5cm ginger
  3. 4 cloves garlic
  4. 3 spring onions for paste and 2 thinly sliced for topping
  5. 25g fermented black soy beans
  6. Fresh chillis (or as many or few as you wish)
  7. 10g cornstarch
  8. 1 bell pepper (mum’s suggestion – red – I prefer green though!)
  9. Soy sauce
  10. Oil for frying

Side Note 1: you should be able to find fermented black soy beans in a Chinese supermarket or online (1, 2).

Part 1

  1. First off, although not mentioned in my JP recipe (because brevity was important and I was also on a deadline), my mum recommended marinating the meat/tofu with a bit of corn starch (‘maybe a heaped teaspoon – depending on quantity’), rice wine, light soy sauce and a bit of sesame oil.
  2. Very roughly chop the ginger, garlic and spring onions, put them into a blender. Add the black beans (don’t need to chop these). If you like spicy food feel free to add chillis. Blend everything!
  3. If you want rice, now’s the time to put the rice cooker on, or prepare your rice. If you don’t have a rice cooker I recommend making it in the microwave with a steamer like this.
  4. Turn on the stove and heat up your frying pan to medium heat.

Part 2

  1. Put ~30ml oil or so in the pan. First of all, put the meat/tofu etc. in and fry. We want to seal the edges of the meat and for the tofu/veg option we want to make the surface nice and crispy. If frying tofu it could take around 10 mins and you need to be turning it over to fry the different edges. For meat it could take about 5 mins.
  2. When the meat’s sealed or tofu is nice and crispy, take it out of the frying pan. Next, add the pepper and fry it for a few mins, then take out and set aside for later.

Part 3

  1. Take the paste from the blender and fry it. After a few minutes when it is fragrant, you can add in the meat/tofu and fry for a few more mins.
  2. Mix 10g cornstarch and 100ml water in a separate bowl and then add it to the pan. Continue to stir 🙂 you can now add light soy sauce to taste.
  3. Add the pepper back into the pan and continue to stir.
  4. When it becomes goopy then you know it’s almost ready. Keep cooking until the meat is cooked (you can cut it open to see).
  5. Serve it on top of a bed of rice and sprinkle with more thinly chopped spring onions.

Aaaaand here I got round to taking a couple photos of a version of this dish I did today… I added mushrooms, onions and courgette. I didn’t use any peppers, and I also used fried gluten instead of tofu! Go ahead and substitute whatever you feel like 🙂

Mini Organisational Post

Hi all,

I’ve thought a little about how I want to organise my blog. I think I will make dev logs and art logs – since a lot of my art stuff won’t fit easily into development related things – I still do a lot of non-game stuff. Other stuff that doesn’t fit in those sections… I’m not sure yet. Perhaps there will be a misc or life log or perhaps I won’t try to make everything suffixed with -log! We’ll see.

Today it’s Sunday… I’ve been working on my 3D commission for a friend – a low ish poly female character model to be completed, textured and rigged. My friend is able to do mocap so she will be animated for a music video (or several). Exciting project!

Aside from that I’ve been feeling a little sluggish today and have been knitting a little bit. I’m going to walk to the shop soon for food shopping. After that, I’ll work on the commission a while more today and probably also paint.

Thanks for keeping up with me!

Long time no see

Hi friends,

It’s been absolutely ages since I’ve posted here. A bunch of stuff has happened, including moving to Manchester from Wales… Moving took a lot of organising and packing and time, so my portfolio work and other bits had to be put on the back burner, but I’ve settled in now and I feel more able to get things done.

For a while I have also been working in retail and other part time jobs while applying to jobs (a story for another time). I was hoping that moving to Manchester would give me a better chance at finding a job. I managed to get a job doing research work full time, starting two weeks ago, finally working regular hours again (I previously had to work retail shifts – also known as having to work every weekend and work til 10pm or later). So I’m really happy to regain my evenings and weekends and hope that this will give a better routine for doing art.

Now that I’ve moved, and I’ve started working regular hours again, I’m back to figuring out a new art routine and working out what I want to do. I still want to focus on games-specific artwork. I still want to work on my game project, Wander. I also have a reasonably big 3D commission to work on which I’m excited about.

During and after moving, in between getting a new job and so on, I managed to finish my low poly 3D model of a character for Wander; I’m thinking of just doing it all in 3D; I like the idea of bringing my on-paper characters to life a bit more.

I probably won’t be applying to games jobs for a little while as I have to learn all about my new job, but I will work on pushing my skills and improving my portfolio for my ‘ultimate’ goal. I need to clarify what my goal is a bit more, because it could turn out that I just want to work on my own game projects, but we’ll work that out.

I am thinking about changing my blog around a bit more, and making myself more likely to write on it. I’m thinking of switching to a more devlog like style of posting (not sure that my posts before were that far off from that, to be honest can’t remember), and focusing on my game dev-related pursuits with a smattering of other arts.

Now working in a research role, and learning about how companies operate, I’ve become all nerdy and tried to work out how my ‘operations’ work out; so I made myself a handy diagram to think about it all.

So I guess everything comes under my main handle, under which I’ve been posting for quite a while. I haven’t even got a shop really right now, except for a little redbubble, but maybe that’ll be a thing eventually. I actually have some traditional work which I started making to sell which I just need to tape up to a board and paint.

Mini update on my previous projects: seer project was completed, but then I realised I wasn’t happy with the design, so I’m adding some work onto that project and rehashing it, currently doing a turnaround. You can see a load of recent stuff on my tumblr as I have managed to keep it updated!

Anyway, those are some things for me to think about. This blog will change. Hope you are all well and thanks for sticking about!

Seer Project Progress

It’s been a while!

I’ve made a bunch of progression on my most recent big project, which can be found here on artstation.

I think I’ve come to a good milestone in it but I feel like there is always more that can be done… I thought I would share a couple of small, achievable ideas on how to improve and expand on the project. After that I might think about how to push my AJ project a bit further too, keeping in mind feedback from AJ and the artists at Creative Assembly.

For the Seer Project:

  1. Include detail and development on boot design
  2. Include detail and development on pauldrons
  3. Sketch out back view for most recent finished design and add notes
  4. Detail shot of staff and further development of its textures

Character design of an insectoid creature

For AJ Project:

  1. Back view of insectoid creature
  2. Pick a 3rd character to develop

I’m not sure if I will complete all of these but they at least give me a direction. In addition to these actions (during or after), I realise I need to strive to study more. Lately I have made some progress and I need to keep pushing forward.

2017 Review; 2018 Plans

Hi all, hope everyone is having a great festive period, whatever celebrations it might entail.

I’m just taking a little time to do an ultra quick review & set a few art goals for 2018.

2017

  • My digital painting skills improved a lot; as did my understanding of things like values, how to use colour, general technical abilities/knowledge within Photoshop
  • I learned more about the requirements for being a concept artist in terms of skill and also how to approach and structure projects – thanks to the mentorship and also feedback I got from IW
  • I vastly improved my etsy shop but it still has a long way to go
  • I got a basic understanding of zbrush which I need to build on in the next year
  • I started a commission that was out of my comfort zone (still working on it, deadline is around new year ish) but still achievable
  • I completed some portfolio projects
  • I drew pretty much every day in some shape or form

2018

  • I want to finish my current portfolio WIP – a character design – female
  • I want to complete a male character design and a creature design project
  • I hope to do one or more courses either through Schoolism, Skillshare, Lynda (3D tutorials here), AJ’s mentorship again or some other platform
  • I am working on rebuilding my sketching confidence in traditional media and I want to continue to do this – this ties in with the sketching every day mentioned above
  • I would like to further diversify my work (within the loose bounds of concept art) – for example to design some weapons, maybe some form of vehicle (not necessarily sci fi but could be a fantasy vehicle which would be cool), different types of people and so on

I also want to be more focused and determined but since that’s not as tangible a goal as the above I’m not including it in that list, more keeping it in mind when I can. Non art related, personal and craft related goals of mine include setting up an occasional art/craft night, buying less plastic-bottled drinks and eating a bit more fruit and veg (not surprising to be featured in resolutions).

This is all I can think of at the moment but I think I’ll probably come back and add more to 2018!

Have a happy new year all, let me know your resolutions or share your blog posts here if you like 🙂

Elysia

Shop Update

Hi all!

One of the things I keep meaning to write about (but then forgetting), is that I’ve updated my etsy shop! In October, etsy gave users up to 50 free listings to be used by the 18th, so I rushed to add some things into the shop.

I still intend to update the shop’s visuals, it still has the older banner and portrait, so at some point I will be rebranding it so it makes a bit more sense! I’m hoping to invest more time in the shop and to research into creating an income from an online shop, as it would be great to be able to create more and rely a bit less on my part time job.

But anyway, you can find a bunch of original drawings, many done in 2015 when I was living in Japan, and a handful of ones done during this year’s inktober. I have a couple more I’m hoping to add in soon.

There’s also a skein of hand spun yarn I made, only one right now, just to test the waters. I might add more as I have made some more that I intend to sell, but I haven’t yet decided if I want to put them all online or keep them for selling at a yarn fair/craft fair type event.

Thanks for reading all, and I hope that if you’re interested, you check out my shop ^^ a favourite/like or even share of the link would be greatly appreciated.

Have a great bonfire night! I’ll be heading to the local fireworks display with a few friends tonight. Bye for now!

Autumn Review

I thought I’d provide a short update post on what’s been happening since Spring ☺️

  • Robotpencil mentorship: I took the plunge and took Anthony Jones’ character design class in August. It was a month long course with a fairly hefty amount of homework (which was a good thing but a bit difficult with various summer social goings-on occurring as well). I struggled a lot in the beginning trying to work out what I wanted to do, and what the best workflow would be, but after two weeks things started to make sense. I learned so much, had great guidance from AJ and awesome classmates. At the end of the mentorship I had a fairly finished project for my portfolio. I could also push it further and beef my portfolio more (this will probably happen)… Anyway, it was so useful and I definitely needed some guidance. I’d do it again, I hope I can; but first I need use all the valuable feedback I received and work on that. 
  • Industry workshops: With a couple of friends, I headed down to London for this event. It’s a three day event with demonstrations and talks from artists of many different disciplines (concept art, animation, 3D modelling, etc) within the games/entertainment industry. There were a ton of great talks, some of my favourites were a demo on procreate (iPad drawing app), an anatomy workshop by Scott Eaton, a talk on Marvellous Designer, Even Mehl Amundsen’s eye opening talk on armour design and more. On top of these things I also got some helpful portfolio feedback from Sumo Digital, Sam Hogg (artist at Playground Games and also alumni from the Robotpencil mentorship) and a bunch of friendly and extremely helpful artists from Creative Assembley. Thanks to these people I now have a ton of actionable feedback to work on; and a way better understanding of how to structure a better portfolio. 

These have been my two main events of the Summer, and as we move into Autumn and Winter I will be using what I’ve learned to study and produce some portfolio work. I’m currently working on another character design project based on the structure of the mentorship homework and adding in the tips I got specifically from CA.

Aside from this, in June I transitioned to a better part time job with more convenient working days and hours. It’s been better but I’m still going to start applying to art jobs more regularly once I have a couple more portfolio projects complete. I’m also keeping up with Japanese classes in the hope that I will achieve JLPT level 2 before I am thirty! In between all this I also do a bit of crafting but I try to make sure I don’t do too much and neglect my art. 

Spring Review

Instead of doing year long resolutions, I decided that I want to just keep reviewing my progress and setting new goals every few months. So, here’s a spring review! I wanted to do quarterly reviews, but I was abroad, so it’s late, and I don’t know the equivalent word for every ‘third’ of the year… (later: the word is tertiary!) Anyway, I’m still working on a lot of the things I posted in my most recent blog entry, so this shouldn’t be a super long post.

Side note which most of you probably know already: my blog is generally just me rambling, psyching myself up for art and giving myself to do lists, which is probably not of interest to many, but if anyone does enjoy it, I am glad 🙂

Since the end of last year I had been finding it a bit difficult to feel okay about painting/working on art skills, possibly because I put too much pressure on myself to do so, perhaps that caused my brain to associate it all with negative feelings?

Originally I had been using a spreadsheet to note down how long I spent on drawing/learning 3d etc. to get an idea of how much time I was dedicating to art. After about three months it began to feel a bit too much like a chore – this could have been due to work/life situation rather than the actual task itself – so I switched to a simple ‘did you draw today? Y/N’ spreadsheet. I made sure to keep drawing every day even when I felt really bad about it… but I decided to transition off of using the spreadsheet for the time being. Maybe the spreadsheet will make a comeback in future.

I think through continuing to draw every day and allowing myself to sometimes just noodle and explore, without any worry of what the finished image will look like, has helped me to overcome the weird anxiety I felt earlier in the year about art.

In August I took up learning to knit, which I think was because I felt bad about art. I used to knit more than I drew (ashamedly – not because knitting is bad, but because I should focus on art). Fortunately I have managed to shift the balance so that I can become much more engrossed in art and reluctant to stop painting.

I’m not sure if this experience constitutes art block, what do you think? Has anyone else had trouble with this? I hope I don’t struggle like this again although I’m sure it will happen again during my art life! In order to try make this blog post not totally self serving and navel-gazing, what are some solutions that you’ve come across?

I think the solutions I’ll be employing (should it happen again) are:

  • Putting less pressure on yourself
  • Experimenting with new media
  • Drawing things you’ve not tried before and not worrying about the results
  • Listening to gently motivating art (and non art) speakers on youtube (e.g. Bobby Chiu, Chris Oatley and Anthony Jones)
  • Just start drawing – even if it’s just one line, and seeing where you go from there
  • Even if you’re feeling like you are not doing well drawing, or don’t want to, during non-drawing life, observe the world around you and consider how light hits things, how different shapes/forms interact, how certain materials work with light differently, etc. and consider how this could be incorporated into your art
  • Learn about how other artists approach problems – e.g. through gumroad tutorials and free art stream videos on youtube – robot pencil have a bunch of videos on there offering loads of tips, also Sara Tepes shares a lot of info

Well, “art block”/art anxieties aside, things have been improving, and so let’s get on with the review of Jan-Apr 2017!

  • I started working part time and painting (and resting/organising/crafting) part time
  • I took on a new commission which is in the field of work I want to do and will hopefully work nicely for my portfolio
  • I decided that I do actually want to be a concept artist and that I should focus and stay determined no matter what (although to be fair I spend about 50% of my time having crises of faith – I will still keep drawing and pushing forward centimetre by centimetre)
  • I worked on some ambitious pieces which I feel pushed my skills further – still a long way to go, but progress has been made and I have learned from most if not all longer pieces that I’ve been working on
  • My friends at dirty casuals and I worked on the Odyssey Jam, a game jam based on Homer’s Odyssey. We made a 2D visual novel style game using the free engine Renpy, and I spent most of the time frantically sketching out backgrounds and messy looking characters. I had to leave the jam early due to my trip abroad but I feel like I learned a good deal and got to do stuff I don’t normally do (read: environments)
  • I went to Japan for two weeks which was inspiring art-wise, I drew almost every day (some days were a bit difficult – I’ll try keep up the every day thing though!) although a lot of my sketchbook bits were a real mess! Just playing around scribbling really
  • A couple of friends and I are thinking of going to the Industry Workshops in London this year – in September. My friend went last year and said it was amazing so I would really like to go and see what I can learn from it, and I’m sure it will motivate me further. If you’re going too, let us know!

I know this is a pretty wordy blog post and for an artist there are suspiciously NO images here – haha. If you’re interested you can actually see what I’ve been getting on with through my tumblr, which is the most up to date social media of mine. I’ve been meaning to update my Instagram and keep that up to date too, so that’ll come soon I hope! I also have my artstation portfolio, which admittedly has an assortment of generalist stuff on it since that was what my previous job entailed, but through the projects mentioned here and in the previous blog post, I’m working to update and replace a lot of the bits on there.

Well! I’m going to go after writing this mammoth post. I hope there was something of interest or use to you all at least somewhere peppered in this text! If not, well, it was a good exercise for me to write. I have work 4-6pm and then the cinema; I’m happy to say that part of me is sad I won’t be drawing during the time I’m at the cinema, but I am also looking forward to seeing my friends; and the film might be inspiring!

SS17 Project List

Well, I have a bunch of projects I’m working on, plus some upcoming ones, plus some dreams of future challenges and portfolio developments. So, I’m going to make a little list for myself and anyone else who happens to be interested! I’ll divide them up into sections; since my desired project list is pretty long!

My motivation from last summer, which kept at a low simmer throughout autumn and winter (thanks to burn out, I think?), has reignited somewhat; so I want to take advantage of that and push myself more once again to learn and improve on my artwork.

Before the new year I had lower levels of motivation. I made sure to draw pretty much every day and tried to work on some projects, so that was good; but now I’m back to normal I want to make better use of my free time and put in more hours – hopefully consistently from now on.

In progress list updated 26th May 2017 – progressing well!

In Progress

  1. Character Design – Portfolio work – designing an elf bard healer. So far the general costume is done. To do; some hair/facial sketches, expressions, prop design, additional details added to further customise her character and of course some notes and development of her story which should affect all aforementioned bits.
  2. Character Design – Practice/Portfolio – Design creature body (blue skin) – finish shade and highlight, create some variants on hold while I work on more pressing projects
  3. Character Illustration – Practice/Portfolio – finishing off a painting adapted from a character sketch. Background needs finishing. Potentially can develop character from this illustration on hold, potentially to repaint!
  4. Logo Project – working for a logo for a friend, non-portfolio – short term task finished!
  5. Character design commission – turnaround style design – commission for a friend, currently over halfway complete, highest priority finished!
  6. Sketch cleanup – I started painting an alien for fun, it turned out to go well since I was enjoying myself, I’m gonna clean him up a bit and put him in my portfolio 🙂 finished!

 

2D Art – Priority – Character work

  1. Expressions Challenge
  2. Pose Challenge – 50 sketches
  3. Foreshortened/Action Pose Challenge – 50 sketches
  4. Couple/Group Pose Challenge – 25 sketches
  5. 14 Animals in 14 Days Challenge
  6. Design characters for the dusty library project – Started, but probably want to go back and do more iterative sketches of the characters as I did not do that enough.
  7. Draw a box – Started working on it again! Finally completed the exercise that scared me, and felt like I made progress! Doing a little bit each day.
  8. Art Improvement Hell Challenge – I got to #7 or #8!
  9. Design characters from a book – perhaps Annihilation (Jeff Vandermeer)?

Game Dev

  1. Odyssey Jam – March ish, 2D story game jam with my friends at Dirty Casuals. As it’s a jam, and a fairly short period of time, I’ll unlikely come up with super polished pieces, but it will be a good exercise in sharpening my skills, experimenting and probably painting a ton of things I wouldn’t normally paint! Done! Find it here.
  2. Zbrush Lessons – I want to make a point of making a concerted effort to learn Zbrush within 2017. I will do this! And it will be fun! – Started working little by little in Zbrush and feel a bit more comfortable using the controls and understanding how sculpting works!

 


I was going to have a section on craft, but I’ve decided now that I want to keep this art focused – as that’s where I want to direct most of my learning energy. I will use crafting (knitting etc.) when I need to take breaks from artwork. I’m also trying to work on taking my sketchbook out with me (rather than my knitting) and using that during my free time instead.

100 faces challenge

Recently I decided to try and draw 100 faces within a week. I got the idea from watching videos by artist Nadia Enis, she suggested doing this challenge and other similar ones in order to get motivated, enjoy and experiment with art. I really recommend checking her work and her video series out!

I managed to do all 100 faces, and I’m looking forward to taking on another art challenge soon – perhaps 14 different animals in 14 days (studying 1 animal, multiple sketches, per day) or 50 poses in x amount of time, 1 environment drawing per day, x amount of compositional thumbnails per day, etc.

But first! I’ve decided that I am going to alternate between taking on challenges and working on portfolio projects. So – next up – I think I’m going to be doing some more character concept work. If you have been following my work, you may know that I have already been enjoying the world of character concepts and world building with my project Wander (a wizard dating simulator!), but for the next portfolio piece I think I’m going to create a standalone character. Wander has a particular visual style to it and it might be nice for me to explore other different ways of creation. It’s likely the concept will be of a similar vein, since it’s by me, but for this one I don’t want to put that limitation on it! I will keep you all updated, anyway.

For now, please enjoy these 100 faces.

15 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

15 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

15 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

15 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

15 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

15 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge

10 drawings of faces for a drawing challenge